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Friendship Album, 1933: Episode 36

In Episode 36, the Wednesday morning bee’s membership increases, and Bess wonders if it’s time for a new beginning.

We’re getting very close to the end here … or at least the end of the first book in what I hope will be a series. As is the case with many endings, new beginnings are on the horizon, and I think this is especially true for Bess. She has grieved her husband, Bill, long and well. But I think she’s finally gotten to a place of acceptance — Bill really isn’t coming back. Bess has always known this, but you can know something rationally and not really believe it deep down.

In some way, Bess’s story in Friendship Album, 1933, is about secondary losses. She’s not only lost her husband, but she’s lost financial security, her identity as a wife, and the dreams she and Bill shared about their future after Bill retired. Slowly but surely over the course of the story Bess has dealt with most of these issues, but I think the hardest one is the loss of her identity as Bill’s wife. Her friendships with Dorothy and Joe have helped her a lot with this, but interestingly, it’s Edwina and Emmeline who get her over the final hump.

We all get by with a little help from our friends, don’t we?



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Friendship Album, 1933: Episode 35

In Episode 35, Eula passes down kitchen advice to her new daughter-in-law and finally gets the news she’s been waiting for.

At the beginning of Friendship Album, 1933, each of the women had a dream, and Eula’s was to return to return to the farm, where her family could be together again. Slowly but surely, however, family has been coming to her.  In Chapter 46, Eula finally has an opportunity to look forward rather than back.

Chapter 46 opens with Eula passing on the recipe for her blue ribbon prize winning cake to her daughter-in-law Elise. So where exactly would her cake have won that prize? The county fair, of course!

In researching county fairs in Ohio, I came across this fun, short doc about the Cuyahoga County Fair:

These are some pictures from a Life Magazine 1938 story on county fairs:



Want to try Eula’s blue ribbon cake for yourself? You can find the recipe here.


Eula’s latest quilt is a Cathedral Window. The other day I googled “hardest quilt to make” and “Cathedral Window” was the first one to pop up. It does look complicated, but so beautiful!

See you next week!

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Friendship Album, 1933: Episode 34

In this episode, Emmeline receives an unexpected offer while mulling over the latest news from Florence.

Let’s talk about the The Farmer’s Wife! As someone who owns at least fifty issues of this fabulous magazine, I have to say it’s one of my favorites–and it hasn’t been published since 1939.

I’ll admit that I’m a vintage magazine lover, especially vintage women’s magazines. The ads are marvelous, and the articles are so smart! I remember finding a cache of old McCall’s and Ladies’ Home Journals from the 1960s and ’70s, and there were reviews of opera records and serious films! But the advice columns were always my favorite part of any magazine. Can This Marriage Be Saved? My mom subscribed to LHJ through much of my childhood, and every month I looked forward to reading that column about people’s dysfunctional relationships. My own parents’ marriage was fine, so it wasn’t that. I think I just enjoyed the stories and the problem-solving.

If the articles in 1970s magazines were smart, the articles in The Farmer’s Wife were smarter. The issues I have are from the 1920s and ’30s (the magazine started publishing in 1897), and in the early 1930s foreign correspondents are reporting from Europe about the rise of Hitler and Mussolini. The subject of education, particular around the topic of consolidated schools, was a frequent topic.

My favorite part of each issue is the “Letters from Our Farm Women” section. If you’ve ever looked through The Farmer’s Wife Sampler Quilt books, then you’re familiar with these letters, though most of the letters in Farmer’s Wife Quilt books focus on the positive side of farm life. The letters in the magazine cover a lot more territory, and some of them are written by women who are less than enthusiastic about the joys of country living. One of the fun things about the letters section is that it wasn’t unusual for a letter to be a response to a letter from an earlier issue, and some arguments lingered over the course of several months. Fun!

The Farmer’s Wife is also a great resource for anyone interested in food history. Some of the recipes shared are  familiar, and some are quite … well, yucky.

Other subjects covered were fashion, gardening, childcare and sewing. Needless to say, the ads alone are worth the price of admission.

Having an excuse to invest in old issues of The Farmer’s Wife has been a definite bonus of writing Friendship Album, 1933. If you’re curious, copies are easily attained on eBay for reasonable prices. In its heyday, The Farmer’s Wife had a million subscribers, which mean there are plenty of old issues floating around!

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Friendship Album, 1933: Episode 33

In Episode 33, Dorothy tries to keep her temper around her stubborn son-in-law — and discovers an unlikely ally in the process.

One of the things we learn in this chapter is that Jasper’s father was a high school graduate. In researching secondary education for African Americans in Ohio, I learned that black students  in Columbus were first admitted to previously all-white high schools in 1874; by 1882 all Columbus schools were integrated. I discovered that high school graduation rates were pretty low in the late 1800s–not just for African Americans, but for everyone. Graduation from high school wasn’t a national norm until the 1950s. In fact, in 1900, only six percent of the U.S. population had a high school degree!

I looked far and wide to find a picture of an integrated 19th century school, but I couldn’t. I did, however find this photo from a 1930s African American high school that I thought was interesting. I wish they still made high schools that looked this grand!

If you’re keeping score at home, we only have six chapters left after this one! I can’t believe our story is almost coming to a close. I’m not really ready to let it go; are you?

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Friendship Album, 1933: Episode 32

In Episode 32, Florence tries her hand at pie-making and makes an unlikely ally in the process.

Florence Grangerfield has never been particularly domestic. In Chapter Forty-Two, she decides to see how she likes life in the kitchen, in case she ever ends up married and spending her days at home. The cookbook she uses to teach herself to make pies is The World’s Modern Cook Book and Kitchen Guide for the Busy Woman by Mabel Claire, which was published in 1932.

I didn’t find a ton of biographical information about Mabel Claire on the Internet, but I did find this delightful tidbit on the The Food Timeline, one of my favorite sources for 1930s foodways:

“Mabel Claire is one of those whom the world delights to dub ‘modern women’ although she says was born just long enough ago to be an old-fashioned girl, which is to say that she learned to cook and bake as well as to model clay and hammer brass. She always wanted to be a sculptor but she put it off until after she was married. She came to New York seven years ago and studied sculpture at the Art Students’ League under Caldwell and Leo Lentelli. Miss Claire found that it costs money to study art, and to solve the money problem, she began modeling add little ink wells and utility jars and boxes which she sold in the small gift shops of Greenwich Village. As she progressed in her work, she evolved a family of wax candles in the form of Mother Goose characters. She christened her work the Candlestick Family, protected by copyright, put it in the hands of a national sales organization and then found she had to organize herself into a factory that could turn out in bulk the amusing little handmade people. When her business interfered with her being a housewife, her friends began to tell her that the easiest thing was to give up housekeeping, but Miss Claire believed that two people can remain much happier if the dine pleasantly at home…So she searched out the ways in which her household duties could be shortened. Her friends copied her methods and borrowed her menus, until Miss Claire decided to add to her duties as housewife, manufacturer and artist those of an author.”
—“Woman Sculptor Writes Book of Unusual Recipes,” Freeport Journal-Press [IL], September 12, 1925 (p. 8)

Here’s the Cream Pie recipe that Florence uses from Mabel Claire’s cookbook:


Happy eating–and listening!


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Friendship Album, 1933: Episode 31

In Episode 31, Father Joe makes Bess an offer she may not be able to refuse.

The Lyn-Way restaurant is real, and its motto is “Pie Fixes Everything.”

That’s my kind of motto.

You’ll find the Lyn-Way in Ashland, OH, the little town that serves as a model for Milton Falls. Was it around in 1933? Hmmm … okay, no. It was established in 1951, but my friend Susan, who’s from Ashland, thought it would be a good place for some of our characters to dine. So I opened the Lynn-Way a few years early; who’s counting?

For more about the Lyn-Way Restaurant, here’s an article for your reading pleasure:

A subject that has come up recently, and again in Chapter 42, is boarding homes for the elderly in the 1930s. It was more common then than it is now for older folks to live with their families, there was still some need for assisted living. Here’s what I learned from a blog called “A Place for Mom”:

“The kernels of the modern care system developed in the mid-1800’s. As an alternatives to state-run institutions for the elderly, fraternal organizations, tradesmen and religious groups began to open nonprofit homes for seniors. Examples of these groups include the German Benevolent Society, the Odd Fellows, Masons and Knights of Columbus. Young members of these groups would pay into a pool that would operate much like a pension plan today. The homes that they operated were often quite nice, and some still operate today.”

To read the entire article, follow this link:

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Wednesday Bee Minutes, February 13

From:  Quilt Along With Emma G, an online offering at

Greetings from the snowy Midwest!

Some of you may be wondering what has been happening here in the last couple weeks, since it has been so quiet.  Last week some good friends and I made a pilgrimage to Quilt Town USA to visit the Missouri Star Quilt Company!  We had all been suffering from a bad case of cabin fever and melancholy so this trip was just what the Dr. ordered.  It is truly amazing how a small Missouri town has been transformed by the craft we all love.  Aside from the abundant shopping experience, I found the history of the area to be just as interesting.  I also found the local Amish community just as fascinating.  It is truly interesting how different groups of the same culture operate in such different ways.  If you have not visited, I highly recommend it as there is inspiration at every turn.

In our travels the group decided that it would be worth an extra 2 ½ hour drive to visit Emporia, KS.  You may not know this, but my great grandmother Emmeline Grangerfield was born and raised in Emporia so it was a deeply personal trip for me.  I was able to visit the site of the mercantile that was owned by my great great grandfather.  Even though the original mercantile is long gone, I had an overwhelming sense of “coming home”.   It was really interesting to tour the local museum and wonder how many of the items in the museum had passed through my grandfather’s hands.

As I had missed a week of club happenings, I wanted to be sure to share this recipe from Joan.

Antonia’s Jam Jam Cookies

2 large eggs

1 cup packed brown sugar

1 cup butter or shortening

1 tsp vanilla

1/3 cup of light corn syrup

3 ½ cups of all-purpose flour (may need more to roll out)

2 tsp baking soda

Fruit Jam of choice

Mix all ingredients until thoroughly blended.  Chill in refrigerator for 30 minutes.  Roll dough out on a floured surface until approximately ¼ inch thick.  Using a cookie cutter, cut dough into shapes and place on a cookie sheet.  Continue to roll and cut dough until all is used.  Bake in a 300 degree Fahrenheit oven for 10 minutes.  Transfer cookies to parchment paper or a cooling rack.  While cookies are still warm, spread jam on them in desired thickness.  Enjoy!

Along the lines of coming home, the Quiltfiction Club met this week at the Grangerfield Mansion Bed and Breakfast.  I have to say I love what the new owners have done to modernize the home.  The remote controlled gas fireplaces are especially nice this time of year.  I did giggle a bit when I walked into the kitchen, as I know that Cora would be just beside herself with all of the new appliances.

The conversation topic was “Bucket List Quilts”. These quilts are those that one wants to do but hasn’t summoned up the courage to try. The double wedding ring and pickle dish traditional blocks appeared to be the clear winner and have challenged quilters for ages.

Also of interest at the meeting was the array of antique dishes that all members brought to share goodies with.  All types of beautiful dishes were shared along with the stories that went with them. If only those dishes could talk for themselves!

The club also extended condolences and prayers for Donna, who was absent due the recent passing of her brother.

Frances motioned for adjournment and reminded all to post their Quilt History Thursday items to the group Facebook page.  Frances also mentioned the starting of a book club on Mondays that will also be active on the group’s Facebook page.  If you haven’t joined, please do so today so you don’t miss out on one more minute of the fun!

Until next week, keep stitching!

Emma G.

(by Marie Davis Dinwiddie)

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Friendship Album, 1933: Episode 30

In Episode 30, Eula gets a visit from an old friend and wonders if her farm dreams will ever come true.

I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: Friendship Album, 1933 does not show the darkest side of the Great Depression. Bess’s financial woes are rooted in the loss of her husband (and by extension, his salary) not Great Depression Economics, and times have always been hard for Dorothy and her family, regardless of the market. It’s Eula whose life has been most affected by the market crash and the drop in crop prices.

Throughout the story, Eula’s dream has been to buy another farm for her family; this is her prime motivation for entering a quilt in the Sears Quilt contest. But in Chapter Forty-One, a visit from an old friend makes Eula reconsider this path. Many of their friends back in New Bethel are being hit by foreclosures or are having to walk away from their land.

When I was researching this chapter, I was struck by a story about how corn prices had dropped so low that farmers burned corn cobs for heat instead of trying to sell their crops. I included this in a discussion that Dan and Eula have after Eula’s friend’s visit. Can you imagine working all spring and summer to grow a crop, and then have it turn out to be worthless?

The history of farming in America during the 1920s and ’30s is filled with recessions, depressions, foreclosures, and one of the U.S.’s most significant man-made natural disasters, the Dust Bowl. It’s a harrowing history, and one that seems to repeat itself periodically.

Birds in Flight feedsack quilt, made circa 1930

It’s interesting how popular quilting became during this time. Merikay Waldvogel wrote a wonderful book about quilting during the Great Depression called Soft Covers for Hard Times that I highly recommend (for the pictures alone!).

For an interview with Merikay, follow this link:

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Friendship Album, 1933: Episode 29

In episode 29, Emmeline travels to her hometown to meet her quilting idol.

Emporia has changed since Emmeline was a child–it was a town that did a lot of growing in the ’20s and ’30s–and Emmeline has changed a lot, too. But you know what they say–you can take the girl out of Emporia, but you can’t take Emporia out of the girl. (Okay, they don’t actually say that, but it’s fun to pretend they do!)

Emmeline is in Emporia to meet her quilting idol, Rose Kretsinger. Kretsinger was a highly regarded quilter in her time, creating some of the most beautiful quilts of the early 20th century. For an in depth look at Kretsinger’s life and work, I highly recommend “The Aesthetic Life: The Story of Quiltmaker Rose Kretsinger” by Jonathan Gregory, a video of a lecture given at the International Quilt Study Center.

Orchid Wreath by Rose Kretsinger

It’s Emmeline’s hope to meet with famous newsman William Allen White while she’s in Emporia. White is famous for calling Emporia the Athens of Kansas. He’s best known for being a Pulitizer prize-winning editorial writer. Here’s his house in the early 20th century:

I always love to write an Emmeline chapter, because I’m never sure what Emmeline is going to do. I hope you enjoy spending time with her in her old hometown!

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Wednesday Bee Minutes

Over on Facebook, we’re having a lot of fun in the Quiltfiction Club, Quiltfiction’s closed group (which I encourage you to join!). On Wednesdays we have a virtual bee, where we all chat and share recipes and quilt pictures, and everyone is invited to participate in a themed show and tell. We’ve shared pictures of our vintage sewing machines, pin cushions, and most recently sewing boxes and baskets.

Several weeks ago, one of our members, Marie, offered to write up the minutes of our weekly meetings. Much to our delight, she did so in character, writing an overview of each bee as though she were Emma Grangerfield’s granddaughter, Emma, owner of a quilt shop in Milton Falls. With Marie’s permission, I’ve decided to share her weekly column here. Enjoy!

From:  “Quilt Along With Emma G,” an online offering at


I am sad to report that earlier this week a good friend of mine and fellow quilter succumbed to the scourge known as breast cancer.  In Ms. Mae’s memory, I strongly urge all of my readers to keep up with regular checkups.  If something doesn’t look or feel right please don’t hesitate and see your doctor right away.

What a whirlwind of a week here in Milton Falls!  The Milton Falls Quilting Company shop was busier than usual this week as quilters from all around stocked up on fabric, kits, patterns, and notions to keep them busy during the Superbowl.  I love a busy week as it is not only good for business, but it is also balm for my mind and soul. 

Also, I do have to apologize to you dear readers for the lateness of this article.  Computers and power outages just simply do not mix!

This week the Quiltfiction Club met at the home of club president Frances.  What a warm, inviting, cozy place to share and sew!   Several new members have joined the ranks in recent days and the club is so happy to have them.

This week’s show and tell featured vintage sewing baskets.  One of the most interesting sewing boxes was shown by Kelly.  The box belonged to her husband’s step-grandmother who is of Japanese descent.  The box was originally designed for crafting kimono’s and had special slots for necessary items.  Several other baskets and very interesting vintage notions were shared and enjoyed by all members. 

Susan shared a beautiful nine-patch quilt that was given to her grandmother in 1936 as a wedding gift.  The quilt was lovingly crafted out of feed sacks.  During that time period, feed mills started using floral print material for their feed sacks as they knew frugal homemakers used them for clothing, bedding, and other necessities during a bleak time in history.


After the show and tell, Nonnie shared an article that posed the question, is it still important to teach children to sew?  The resounding answer from the group was a hearty YES.  It is important that children learn basic skills and sewing is one of them.  If you have children that want to learn sewing skills there are great organizations such as 4-H and civic groups that offer tutorials.   

This week’s recipe is sure to keep your families warm on what seems to be endless winter evenings.  Also, trust me; a slow cooker is a quilter’s best friend!

Slow Cooker Chicken & Biscuits

2 boneless skinless chicken breast halves, cut into 1 inch cubes

2 cups of broccoli florets

2 carrots diced

2 cans cream of chicken soup, undiluted

1 tube of large biscuits, grands style

Salt and pepper to taste

In a large slow cooker, mix raw chicken, broccoli florets, carrots, cream of chicken soup, salt and pepper.  Cook on high for 3 hours.  After 3 hours, stir the chicken and vegetable mixture.  Open the tube of biscuits and tear the dough into small pieces and place on top of the chicken and vegetable mixture.  Cover and cook for 1 more hour then serve.

Frances motioned for adjournment and reminded all to post their Quilt History Thursday items to the group Facebook page. 

Until next week, keep stitching!